Schools take steps to curb abuse

FORTVILLE — After a teacher’s aide was accused of having sex with a high school student, Mt. Vernon schools announced new training protocols aimed at teaching staff how to recognize and report inappropriate relationships.

Some staff members have already started taking the training, and others will follow suit in coming weeks, Robbins said. Moving forward, the training will become an annual requirement, which staff will complete during staff orientation at the beginning of the school year, he said.

The announcement comes days after Kisha Nuckols, a Mt. Vernon Middle School teacher’s aide and former high school substitute teacher, was charged with three felony counts of child seduction and one Level 6 felony count of dissemination of matters harmful to minors.

The charges were filed Friday after two male students told police they had inappropriate relationships with Nuckols, 38, of Fortville, after she began contacting them on various social media sites, court document state.

In a letter sent to parents Monday, Superintendent Shane Robbins said the school district is requiring all staff members, including bus drivers, custodians and secretaries, to take an online training course focused on sexual misconduct between staff and students and reporting requirements for suspected abuse or neglect.

The training will cover the definition and signs of sexual misconduct as well as the legal obligations staff members have to report suspected abuse.

At the end of the training, participants must complete a quiz before the program indicates the training has been completed, Robbins said. Once the training is complete, documentation will be put in personnel files.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said that paperwork could be used as evidence in a courtroom should charges alleging misconduct be brought against an employee in the future. The document would serve as proof that the employee understood what constituted an inappropriate relationship with a young person, Eaton said.

Robbins said administrators not only want to educate teachers and staff about recognizing the signs of inappropriate relationships but also remind them of their duty to report any suspicious behavior.

“You’d like to think this will never happen again, but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take,” he said. “Our No. 1 priority is and always will be the safety of our students.”

Nuckols worked for Mt. Vernon Schools for at least three years as a teacher’s aide, substitute and lifeguard, police said. She reached out to the victims through social media, reports state.

Robbins said in addition to new staff training protocols, he’ll also recommend the school board review its staff social media policies.

A policy in place already outlines that staff members should not engage with students on social media unless it’s school-related, but the handbook includes legal jargon that could be revised to make it clearer, Robbins said.

Nuckols was suspended from her position at the school last week, and Robbins will recommend the school board terminate her employment. She has since been barred from coming on school grounds.

In the weeks and months to come, Robbins said school administrators and board members will continue to look at ways to improve policies and educate staff to provide the best learning environment for the district’s roughly 3,700 students.

“We’re not going to forget about this,” he said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.